ELF: Week 12 Previews & Predictions

I’m back! After real life got in the way last week, I have returned to try and go undefeated in my predictions: something that I have not achieved in the ELF this season. Week 11 wouldn’t have been any different as the week slanted in a different direction than I thought it would. Hopefully, week 12 will be my swan song for the season and I can unleash the graffiti and fireworks.

Cologne Centurions v. Leipzig Kings was cancelled.

Berlin Thunder(6-3) v. Panthers Wroclaw(6-4)

Last week the Panthers blew the game late against Vienna; they were in prime position to knock off the 2023 Conference Champs and failed to do so. Because of that result and failure to close the game, Wroclaw is currently sitting on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. This week, they play the team that leaped them into the playoffs. The Thunder currently holds that spot because they have played one last game. To stress just how important this game is for Wroclaw cannot go unstated. Thunder QB Slade Jarman returns to Wroclaw, as he played for them last year for a few games. The Panthers have Defensive Player of the Year candidate AJ Wentland, who cracked 100 tackles last week, chomping at the bit to get his hands on Jarman. This should be the game of the week as a playoff spot is on the line.

Prediction: Panthers dominate early; collapse late, but edge out the W. Panthers 31-28

Fehervar Enthroners(2-7) v. Prague Lions(1-8)

To say that 2023 hasn’t been a good year for both these franchises, it would be an understatement. The Enthroners haven’t been able to find a rhythm most of the year which has resulted in some very bad losses. Meanwhile, the Lions shut down briefly mid-season, were able to sort everything out and return to the league. The downfall to that is they had to scramble to bring in talent. Here in week 12, they’ve had some time to try and get into sync, but a practically a whole new team virtually makes it impossible to find that cohesiveness quickly. While this game says Prague is the home team, the game will be played in Fehervar. The Lions shutdown mid-season cost Fehervar a home game. In a classy move by the organization, Prague offered to trvael to Fehervar for this game, so the Enthroners could recoup a home game.

Prediction: Ugly game; not the most entertaining. Fehervar 38-10

Raiders Tirol(7-2) v. Vienna Vikings(9-0)

After shocking the league after week 9, the Raiders came back last week and won their game, going 1-0 in the post-Strong/McClam era. The better news for them was that Munich upset Stuttgart in their game, meaning that the conference championship is well within reach. Their opponents this week wrapped up the Eastern Conference last week with the comeback win against Wroclaw. The Vikings are still playing for the #1 seed, as Rhein is also undefeated. The Raiders have a lot to prove: they need to prove that they didn’t make a mistake in the Strong release, they need to prove that they can beat a top team in the league, and they need to prove to Stuttgart that they’re for real. The Vikings look like the most complete team in the league, but they’ve been in trouble at times this year and if they let their guard down even in the slightest, they could be shocked this week.

Prediction: Vienna has their second straight tough game; Raiders D is legit. Vienna 23-21

Stuttgart Surge(7-2) v. Barcelona Dragons(2-7)

It’s been a long season for the Barcelona Dragons. They started out surprising people and looking like they could make some noise during the season, but the wheels fell off rather quickly and it’s been a struggle to correct the ship since then. Last week both teams fell victim to expansion teams, as Munich beat Stuttgart and Milano beat Barcelona. Dragons QB returned from injury last week and despite the late comeback attempt, couldn’t quite put the drives together necessary to prevent a Seamen win. The Surge were in a dogfight with the Ravens the whole game and Reilly Hennessey, who was activated from IR, did not start as fast as he would have liked. The Surge are in a close race for their conference and stumbling late in the season is not a good sign. The Dragons will attempt to play spoiler the rest of the year as they have been eliminated from the playoffs.

Prediction: Surge get it together; defense returns to form. Stuttgart 34-17

Milano Seamen(2-7) v. Frankfurt Galaxy(8-1)

The Galaxy have quietly put together one of the best seasons in the league this year. Their 8-1 record has allowed them to remain in the conference championship hunt. This week they welcome the Milano Seamen, fresh off their second win, in a game where Milano is playing for nothing more than pride and to spoil Frankfurt’s effort to win the conference. Last week, the Galaxy struggled on offense, as Jakeb Sullivan didn’t play against Cologne. That’s the big question mark coming into this week for Frankfurt. Will Sullivan play? If Sullivan doesn’t play, there’s a chance they could fall into a trap. Milano’s offense is no slouch and if their defense can come up with a couple big stops, it could lead to a loss for Frankfurt, something that they can’t afford this late in the year.

Prediction: Frankfurt holds on with or without Sullivan. Frankfurt 27-23

Paris Musketeers(3-6) v. Hamburg Sea Devils(4-5)

2023 has not gone the way that the Musketeers had hoped for, either. Despite bringing the consensus top free agent at quarterback and wide receiver, Paris has been plagued with a leaky offensive line and inconsistent play by their defense. The lack of overall execution during the season, as lead Paris to be eliminated from the playoffs. Hamburg looked strong earlier in the year. They have pushed some of the top teams to the limit and even beat the Panthers Wrocloaw in their second game. They’ve been unable to string together two really good weeks and it’s shown. The just under .500 record has been telling as Hamburg can’t seem to find any consistency. One week the defense looks great, the next they completely meltdown. Same goes for the offense. While neither one of these teams are playing for a playoff spot, this game should be highly entertaining and might be the best game of the week.

Prediction: Fireworks. Both offenses deliver. Paris 38-33

Rhein Fire(9-0) v. Munich Ravens(5-4)

Another strong matchup that could lead to a great game. The Ravens’ offense has been one of the strongest all year and Chad Jeffries and Markelle Castle are one of the deadliest duos in the league. Their defense has been the biggest question mark, primarily their secondary. Munich is riding high right now after upsetting Stuttgart last week. For Rhein, the entire team runs through the play of QB Jadrain Clark. Clark is the front runner for MVP and he’s earned it. It’s more than Clark, though, as the rest of the team is really well-rounded and balanced. The Fire are in a conference championship competition with Frankfurt, while the Ravens are trying to maintain pace with Wroclaw and Berlin for the 6th playoff spot. If the Ravens secondary can tighten up their play, they could put an end to Rhein’s undefeated season. If they don’t, Clark is going to feast.

Prediction: Rhein reigns supreme; Ravens start losing distance. Rhein 38-24

My confidence level has been shot recently with how these games have played out recently, but this week I kind of have a little renewed vigor. I’m not fully confident because a couple of these games are much closer than they appear, but I feel like I have a much better grasp on the momentum of teams this week.

~Michael Washington

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